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Constance Alexander: Author’s visit to Calloway County Library kicks off summer of reading

If they are opened at all, most local libraries don’t unlock the doors until 1 p.m. on Sundays, leaving enough time for church and dinner afterward. Most weekends, library patrons drift in from mid-to-late afternoon, but last Sunday in Calloway County things were different.

According to library employee Madeah Daubert, “People started arriving before we opened the doors. Some were already in the parking lot when we showed up for work.”

By 1:05, the Calloway County Public Library meeting room was filling up with the one hundred or so who’d signed up in advance. They came from near and far, including Louisville, Lexington, Paducah, Morgantown, and Russellville, as well as Paris and Martin, Tenn.

In the library itself, tables filled with books for sale attracted eager buyers for about 26 different titles.

The covers were colorful, shades of vibrating pastels with the name of the author, Mary Kay Andrews, prominently displayed. The illustrations were inviting, many of them reminiscent of summer vacations, beach time, and stunning sunsets.

Some titles were aimed at a female audience with a Southern bent, for instance, “Hissy Fit,” “Savannah Blues,” and “Little Bitty Lies.” Others evoked a blend of white wine, suntan lotion, and summer cottages where no matter how many times the floors are swept, sand is underfoot all the time.

Ya’ll know the feeling.

Patsy Pittman of Murray is an unapologetic fan of Ms. Andrews books. “I already read her newest one,” she said.

Dee Dee Smith has read so many, she gets them confused. “I like a good summer read,” she explained, adding that when a little mystery’s mixed in she’s hooked.

“The characters seem real too, not just one dimensional, and there are strong female characters who have to rise up above obstacles,” she continued.

Beth Falwell echoed her approval of Mary Kay Andrews’ writings, adding how much she enjoyed the southern settings in the books. “I like her style and the Southern expressions she uses,” she remarked. She also mentioned how much she has enjoyed the cookbooks, especially the recipe for Butterscotch Brownies.

From the minute she was introduced by Mrs. Sandy Linn, the library’s Community Relations Coordinator, the author set the stage for an energetic, amusing, and informative talk. After the admonition to turn off cell phones, Mary Kay interjected, “Before you turn yours off, follow me on Instagram and friend me on FaceBook.”

Despite her status as a New York Times bestselling author, Mary Kay Andrews was down-to-earth in her manner and self-deprecating in her humor. “I do everything bass-ackwards,” she confessed. Nevertheless, she learned how to set and meet specific goals for a writing career that did not begin until she left the newspaper business and reinvented herself.

Since then, despite her productive one-book-a-year output, she manages to have fun in the process. “I don’t play tennis, bridge or golf, but I play house,” she said, going on to explain that all her books feature fixer-upper houses.

After a lively Q & A session, audience members lined up to get their books signed, and Mary Kay Andews patiently autographed each one, while engaging in easy back-and-forth with her fans.

One woman from Louisville was so grateful she wrote a thank you note to the library staff, “for bringing Mary Kay Andrews to Murray! Her presentation and Q & A were delightful. I have enjoyed her novels for years now,” she went on, “but since she seldom makes personal appearances close to where I live, the four-hour drive from Louisville was worth it.”

Along those lines, several devotees asked the author why she agreed to come all the way to Murray, Ky. “Why not Murray?” she replied every time.

According to Sandy Linn, Mary Kay Andrews is a favorite author among Calloway County Public Library readers. “She known as Queen of the Beach Reads,” Mrs. Linn explained, “so inviting her to visit Murray in May was a perfect way to kick off a summer of reading.”

For more information about Mary Kay Andrews, go to marykayandrews.com. Information about summer reading programs at Calloway County Public Library is available at www.callowaycountylibrary.org.

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Constance Alexander is a columnist, award-winning poet and playwright, and President of INTEXCommunications in Murray. She can be reached at calexander9@murraystate.edu. Or visit www.constancealexander.com.

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